Special Issue "Functional Properties of Natural Products and Human Health"

A special issue of Nutrients (ISSN 2072-6643). This special issue belongs to the section "Phytochemicals and Human Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 December 2022 | Viewed by 5598

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Daniela Rigano
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Pharmacy, University of Naples "Federico II", Via D. Montesano, 49, 80131 Naples, Italy
Interests: natural products; structure elucidation; essential oils; NMR spectroscopy; GC-MS and LC-MS
Prof. Dr. Paola Bontempo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Department of Precision Medicine, Via L. De Crecchio 7, 80138 Naples, Italy
Interests: cancer; cell proliferation; cell differentiation; bioactive molecules; epigenetics; epidrugs; molecular simulations; endocrine disruptors
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Natural products (NPs) isolated from natural sources, and particularly from medicinal plants, are widely used as therapeutic agents for treating diseases and maintaining health and “wellness”. NPs are regarded as an important repository for the development of potential novel drugs, as they may serve as either drug candidates or lead compounds for drug design. Plant-derived therapeutics have several advantages, including wide availability, diverse pharmacological actions, and a generally good profile of safety and tolerability. In recent years, there have been numerous reports from clinical studies testifying the efficacy of medicinal plants and phytochemicals in ameliorating several human diseases such as cancers and inflammatory, fibrotic, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases. A plethora of basic in vitro and in vivo studies have also unraveled molecular mechanisms underlying NPs’ health benefits. Nevertheless, issues such as NP accessibility, sustainable supply, and bioavailability require further study.

The purpose of this Special Issue is to collect original research articles, short communications, and reviews on new perspectives in chemical and functional properties of natural products, including the molecular mechanisms of the therapeutic effects of natural products in human diseases. The submission of studies aimed at characterizing the bioavailability and biological effects of NPs will also be welcomed.

Prof. Dr. Daniela Rigano
Prof. Dr. Paola Bontempo
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • natural products
  • medicinal plant
  • food plant
  • bioactive molecules
  • biological activity
  • human health
  • human diet
  • molecular mechanism

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Article
Olfactory Stimulation with Volatile Aroma Compounds of Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) Essential Oil and Linalool Ameliorates White Fat Accumulation and Dyslipidemia in Chronically Stressed Rats
Nutrients 2022, 14(9), 1822; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14091822 - 27 Apr 2022
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Abstract
We explored the physiological effects of inhaling basil essential oil (BEO) and/or linalool and identified odor-active aroma compounds in BEO using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC–MS) and GC–olfactometry (GC–O). Linalool was identified as the major volatile compound in BEO. Three groups of rats were [...] Read more.
We explored the physiological effects of inhaling basil essential oil (BEO) and/or linalool and identified odor-active aroma compounds in BEO using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC–MS) and GC–olfactometry (GC–O). Linalool was identified as the major volatile compound in BEO. Three groups of rats were administered BEO and linalool via inhalation, while rats in the control group were not. Inhalation of BEO for 20 min only reduced the total weight gain (190.67 ± 2.52 g) and increased the forced swimming time (47.33 ± 14.84 s) compared with the control group (219.67 ± 2.08 g, 8.33 ± 5.13 s). Inhalation of BEO for 5 min (392 ± 21 beats/min) only reduced the pulse compared with the control group (420 ± 19 beats/min). Inhalation of linalool only reduced the weight of white adipose tissue (5.75 ± 0.61 g). The levels of stress-related hormones were not significantly different among the groups. The total cholesterol and triglyceride levels decreased after inhalation of BEO for 20 min (by more than −10% and −15%, respectively). Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels were lowered (by more than −10%) by the inhalation of BEO and linalool, regardless of the inhalation time. In particular, BEO inhalation for 20 min was associated with the lowest level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (53.94 ± 2.72 mg/dL). High-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels increased after inhalation of BEO (by more than +15%). The atherogenic index and cardiac risk factors were suppressed by BEO inhalation. Animals exposed to BEO and linalool had no significant differences in hepatotoxicity. These data suggest that the inhalation of BEO and linalool may ameliorate cardiovascular and lipid dysfunctions. These effects should be explored further for clinical applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Properties of Natural Products and Human Health)
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Article
Procyanidin B2 Attenuates Nicotine-Induced Hepatocyte Pyroptosis through a PPARγ-Dependent Mechanism
Nutrients 2022, 14(9), 1756; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14091756 - 22 Apr 2022
Viewed by 348
Abstract
Procyanidin B2 (PCB2), a natural flavonoid, has been demonstrated to exert anti-oxidation and anti-inflammatory effects on hepatic diseases. Increasing evidence shows the hepatoxicity of nicotine. However, whether PCB2 protects against nicotine-induced hepatoxicity and the underlying mechanisms remains uncharacterized. Here, we reported that nicotine [...] Read more.
Procyanidin B2 (PCB2), a natural flavonoid, has been demonstrated to exert anti-oxidation and anti-inflammatory effects on hepatic diseases. Increasing evidence shows the hepatoxicity of nicotine. However, whether PCB2 protects against nicotine-induced hepatoxicity and the underlying mechanisms remains uncharacterized. Here, we reported that nicotine promoted hepatocyte pyroptosis, as evidenced by the elevation of propidium iodide (PI)-positive cells, the activation of Caspase-1 and gasdermin D (GSDMD), the enhanced expression of NOD-like receptor containing pyrin domain 3 (NLRP3) and the increased release of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18. The silencing of GSDMD by small interfering RNA (siRNA) efficiently inhibited the release of LDH and the secretion of IL-1β and IL-18. In addition, rosiglitazone (RGZ) prevented hepatocyte pyroptosis induced by nicotine. Furthermore, we showed that PCB2 attenuated nicotine-induced pyroptosis through the activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ) in hepatocytes. Moreover, administration of PCB2 ameliorated liver injury and hepatocyte pyroptosis in nicotine-treated mice. Hence, our findings demonstrated that PCB2 attenuated pyroptosis and liver damage in a PPARγ-dependent manner. Our results suggest a new mechanism by which PCB2 exerts its liver protective effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Properties of Natural Products and Human Health)
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Article
Yellow Chaste Weed and Its Components, Apigenin and Galangin, Affect Proliferation and Oxidative Stress in Blue Light-Irradiated HaCaT Cells
Nutrients 2022, 14(6), 1217; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14061217 - 13 Mar 2022
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Abstract
While harmful effects of blue light on skin cells have been recently reported, there are few studies regarding natural products that alleviate its negative effects. Therefore, we investigated ameliorating effects of yellow chaste weed (YCW) (Helichrysum arenarium) extract and its components, [...] Read more.
While harmful effects of blue light on skin cells have been recently reported, there are few studies regarding natural products that alleviate its negative effects. Therefore, we investigated ameliorating effects of yellow chaste weed (YCW) (Helichrysum arenarium) extract and its components, apigenin and galangin, on blue light-irradiated HaCaT cells. In this study, we found that YCW extract improved the reduced proliferation of HaCaT cells induced by blue light-irradiation and reduced blue light-induced production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels. We also found that apigenin and galangin, the main components of YCW extract, showed the same activities as YCW extract. In experiments examining molecular mechanisms of YCW extract and its components such as apigenin and galangin, they all reduced expression of transient receptor potential vanilloid member 1 (TRPV1), its phosphorylation, and calcium ion (Ca2+) influx induced by blue light irradiation. In addition, apigenin and galangin regulated phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs). They also reduced phosphorylation of mammalian sterile 20-like kinase-1/2 (MST-1/2), inducing phosphorylation of Akt (protein kinase B), one downstream molecule of MST-1/2. Moreover, apigenin and galangin promoted translocation of Forkhead box O3 (FoxO3a) from the nucleus to the cytosol by phosphorylating FoxO3a. Besides, apigenin and galangin interrupted blue light influences on expression of nuclear and secretory clusterin. Namely, they attenuated both upregulation of nuclear clusterin and downregulation of secretory clusterin induced by blue light irradiation. We also found that they downregulated apoptotic protein Bcl-2 associated X protein (Bax) and conversely upregulated anti-apoptotic protein B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2). Collectively, these findings indicate that YCW extract and its components, apigenin and galangin, antagonize the blue light-induced damage to the keratinocytes by regulating TRPV1/clusterin/FoxO3a and MAPK signaling. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Properties of Natural Products and Human Health)
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Article
Dendropanax trifidus Sap-Mediated Suppression of Obese Mouse Body Weight and the Metabolic Changes Related with Estrogen Receptor Alpha and AMPK-ACC Pathways in Muscle Cells
Nutrients 2022, 14(5), 1098; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14051098 - 05 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 648
Abstract
Dendropanax trifidus (DT) is a medicinal herb native to East Asia, which has been used extensively for its therapeutic properties in traditional medicine. In this study, we examined the effects of DT sap on the regulation of body weight and muscle metabolism in [...] Read more.
Dendropanax trifidus (DT) is a medicinal herb native to East Asia, which has been used extensively for its therapeutic properties in traditional medicine. In this study, we examined the effects of DT sap on the regulation of body weight and muscle metabolism in mice. Obese model db/db mice were administered daily with DT sap or vehicle control over a 6-week period. The effects of DT sap on muscle metabolism were studied in C2C12 muscle cells, where glycolytic and mitochondrial respiration rates were monitored. As AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a master regulator of metabolism and plays an important function as an energy sensor in muscle tissue, signaling pathways related with AMPK were also examined. We found that DT sap inhibited body weight increase in db/db, db/+, and +/+ mice over a 6-week period, while DT sap-treated muscle cells showed increased muscle metabolism and also increased phosphorylation of AMPK and Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase (ACC). Finally, we found that DT sap, which is enriched in estrogen in our previous study, significantly activates estrogen alpha receptor in a concentration-dependent manner, which can drive the activation of AMPK signaling and may be related to the muscle metabolism and weight changes observed here. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Properties of Natural Products and Human Health)
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Article
Anti-Inflammatory Activity and Mechanism of Cryptochlorogenic Acid from Ageratina adenophora
Nutrients 2022, 14(3), 439; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14030439 - 19 Jan 2022
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Abstract
Ageratina adenophora is an invasive plant known for its toxicity to livestock. Current research on this plant has shifted from toxicity prevention to the beneficial utilization of plant resources. This study was performed to investigate the effects and mechanisms of cryptochlorogenic acid (CCGA) [...] Read more.
Ageratina adenophora is an invasive plant known for its toxicity to livestock. Current research on this plant has shifted from toxicity prevention to the beneficial utilization of plant resources. This study was performed to investigate the effects and mechanisms of cryptochlorogenic acid (CCGA) isolated from Ageratina adenophora on the inflammatory responses induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in RAW264.7 cells. RAW264.7 cells were pretreated with CCGA (200, 100, and 50 μg/mL) and subsequently stimulated with LPS (1 μg/mL) for 16 h. The cytotoxicity of CCGA was tested using the Cell Counting Kit (CCK8). The mechanism of action of CCGA in attenuating inflammation was also identified using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, and Western blot. The results showed that CCGA had a maximal safe concentration of 200 mg/mL. Moreover, CCGA reduced the level of nitric oxide (NO) and iNOS in LPS-induced RAW264.7 cells (p < 0.01). In addition, CCGA reduced the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-8) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in LPS-induced RAW264.7 cells at both the mRNA and protein levels (p < 0.01). CCGA prevented the activation of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB) in LPS-induced RAW264.7 cells via the inhibition of IKK and IκB phosphorylation and the degradation of IκB proteins (p < 0.01). This finding indicated that CCGA isolated from A. adenophora may be a potential candidate for the treatment of inflammation-related diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Properties of Natural Products and Human Health)
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Article
Thiolated Chitosan as an Intestinal Absorption Carrier with Hesperidin Encapsulation for Obesity Treatment
Nutrients 2021, 13(12), 4405; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13124405 - 09 Dec 2021
Viewed by 918
Abstract
Obesity is characterized as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation harmful to one’s health, linked to hormonal imbalances, cardiovascular illness, and coronary artery disease. Since the disease stems mainly from overconsumption, studies have aimed to control intestinal absorption as a route for treatment. In [...] Read more.
Obesity is characterized as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation harmful to one’s health, linked to hormonal imbalances, cardiovascular illness, and coronary artery disease. Since the disease stems mainly from overconsumption, studies have aimed to control intestinal absorption as a route for treatment. In this study, chitosan-thioglycolic acid (CT) was developed as a physical barrier in the gastrointestinal tracts to inhibit nutrient uptake. CT exhibits a superior mucoadhesive property compared to chitosan both in vitro and in vivo for the ability to form disulfide bonds with the intestinal mucosa. For CT as a potential drug delivery platform, hesperidin, a herb for bodyweight control in traditional Chinese medication, is encapsulated in CT and can be released consistently from this absorption barrier. In animal studies, CT encapsulated with hesperidin (CTH) not only results in a weight-controlling effect but limits adipose accumulation by hindering absorption, suggesting a potential role in obesity treatment. Neither CT nor CTH exhibit cytotoxicity or produce adverse immunological reactions in vivo. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Properties of Natural Products and Human Health)
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Article
Evaluation of the Anti-Shigellosis Activity of Dietary Isothiocyanates in Galleria mellonella Larvae
Nutrients 2021, 13(11), 3967; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13113967 - 07 Nov 2021
Viewed by 772
Abstract
Cruciferous vegetables, widely present in daily diets, are a rich source of organosulfur compounds with proven health benefits, especially chemopreventive or antioxidative effects. Isothiocyanate derivatives (ITCs) exhibit a broad spectrum of biological and pharmacological activity and recently, their antibacterial properties have been of [...] Read more.
Cruciferous vegetables, widely present in daily diets, are a rich source of organosulfur compounds with proven health benefits, especially chemopreventive or antioxidative effects. Isothiocyanate derivatives (ITCs) exhibit a broad spectrum of biological and pharmacological activity and recently, their antibacterial properties have been of particular importance. Here, we have focused on the anti-shigellosis activity of sulforaphane (SFN) and phenethyl ITC (PEITC). The genus Shigella causes gastroenteritis in humans, which constitutes a threat to public health. Production of a potent Stx toxin by S. dysenteriae type 1 results not only in more severe symptoms but also in serious sequela, including the hemolytic uremic syndrome. Here, we present evidence that two aliphatic and aromatic ITCs derivatives, SFN and PEITC, have an effective antibacterial potency against S. dysenteriae, also negatively regulating the stx gene expression. The molecular mechanism of this effect involves induction of the global stress-induced stringent response. ITCs also inhibit bacterial virulence against the Vero and HeLa cells. We present evidence for the therapeutic effect of sulforaphane and phenethyl ITC against a S. dysenteriae infection in the Galleria mellonella larvae model. Thus, our results indicate that isothiocyanates can be effectively used to combat dangerous bacterial infections. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Properties of Natural Products and Human Health)
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Review

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Review
Health Benefits, Pharmacological Effects, Molecular Mechanisms, and Therapeutic Potential of α-Bisabolol
Nutrients 2022, 14(7), 1370; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14071370 - 25 Mar 2022
Viewed by 689
Abstract
α-Bisabolol is one of the important monocyclic sesquiterpenes, derived naturally from essential oils of many edible and ornamental plants. It was first obtained from Matricaria chamomilla, commonly known as chamomile or German chamomile. The available literature indicates that this plant along with [...] Read more.
α-Bisabolol is one of the important monocyclic sesquiterpenes, derived naturally from essential oils of many edible and ornamental plants. It was first obtained from Matricaria chamomilla, commonly known as chamomile or German chamomile. The available literature indicates that this plant along with other α-Bisabolol containing plants is popularly used in traditional medicine for potential health benefits and general wellbeing. Nutritional studies are indicative of the health benefits of α-Bisabolol. Numerous experimental studies demonstrated pharmacological properties of α-Bisabolol including anticancer, antinociceptive, neuroprotective, cardioprotective, and antimicrobial. This review aims to collectively present different pharmacological activities based on both in vitro and in vivo studies. In the present review using synoptic tables and figures, we comprehensively present that α-Bisabolol possesses therapeutic and protective activities, therefore, it can be used for potential health benefits based on pharmacological effects, underlying molecular mechanism, and favorable pharmaceutical properties. Based on the studies mostly performed on cell lines or animal models, it is evident that α-Bisabolol may be a promising nutraceutical and phytomedicine to target aberrant biological mechanisms which result in altered physiological processes and various ailments. Given the polypharmacological effects and pleiotropic properties, along with favorable pharmacokinetics, and dietary availability and safety, α-Bisabolol can be used as a dietary agent, nutraceutical or phytopharmaceutical agent or as an adjuvant with currently available modern medicines. The regulatory approval of this molecule for use as food additives, and in cosmetics and fragrance industry is also supportive of its human usage. Moreover, further studies are necessary to address pharmaceutical, pharmacological, and toxicological aspects before clinical or nutritional usage in humans. The biological actions and health benefits open opportunities for pharmaceutical development with pharmacological basis of its use in future therapeutics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Properties of Natural Products and Human Health)
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